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The Coronavirus Pandemic has forced employers worldwide to consider remote work as a bona fide option for their employees. Some businesses have embraced the choice while others have developed a hybrid option by staggering schedules, allowing staff to work from home and the office at specific times.
This alternative reality has given business owners a first-hand insight into the advantages and disadvantages of their employees working from home. This paradigm seems to work for some employers and their staff and but not for others. Why is that?
The first question most employers want to know is how productive their employees will be when they work from home. With no immediate end to the pandemic in sight, many industries have shifted their attitudes and embraced various remote working options for the near future; for roles that allow it. And that is the key – Roles that allow it!
Clearly, not all jobs can be done from home. Managers and employees who perform administrative and clerical functions, certain types of sales and human resources roles can effectively work remotely. But what about manual laborers, construction workers, machinists, drivers, and many other service workers who are unable to perform their jobs remotely?
Remote work, while not for everyone, has its pros and cons. Let’s explore these further.
Many off-site employees are proving to be more efficient, are working harder and tend to be much happier and less stressed (better work-life balance). Feeling appreciated and trusted by their bosses for being able to work remotely in their home environment is immeasurable.
Conversely, other employees may start with the best of intentions and soon realize that working from home can be a juggling act. Distraction with household duties or needing to care for a demanding child may interfere with delivering high-quality work in a timely manner.
Some remote workers feel more connected with their co-workers, mainly because of video conferencing and other technologies that make it easy to communicate with their team. This ease of communication makes the world a smaller place; connecting with groups is as effortless as if they were in the same city. Time saved by telecommuting can allow for higher productivity as well as a decrease in the number of distractions an office environment brings (noisy colleagues, music, unnecessary meetings).
Fewer distractions mean higher productivity, correct?
Hmmm, maybe not!
Consider that in today’s culture, the spark of many great ideas is lit by the organic, spontaneous and often unplanned conversations that happen in an office environment. For example, being able to have these interactions is an essential element of the tech industry, where ideas are the foundation of every part of their business. When working remotely, this spark can be lost; having a “team” brainstorming session over Zoom is just not the same.
Working from home can also impact networking. Many companies require staff to be “out there,” engaging and meeting with people one-on-one to build their networks. Being isolated at home can impact the growth of these networks, and companies should carefully take this impact into account.
One of the most significant drawbacks of remote work is the danger of losing the team and company culture that exists in a physical workspace. Take our office as an example. We laugh, yell, play and nudge one another to get on it! Music is always playing, candles and incense burning with sandy floors from people taking beach walks throughout the day. Towels, surf boards, sun screen and sunglasses are all over our office with the smell of fresh coffee brewing, ice machine rattling and energy drinks scattered all over the place. We have fun seeing one another in addition to seeing Team members’ dogs when they visit. We would have to work harder to maintain our close and supportive team culture if everyone worked remotely.
So, in the end, it depends on many factors.
For the immediate future, working from a physical office is still a viable and beneficial option providing the COVID-19 protocols are strictly in place to protect everyone. For those who are not comfortable in an office environment, remote work is an equally viable option, depending on their functions.
What it comes down to in the end is “it depends” 🙂
As so many parts of our lives turn digital, it would not be surprising if, after the pandemic, many people will have gained a deeper appreciation for the value of human contact and will be yearning to get back into the office.